October 26, 2020
Gatherings are a key part of the Kairos journey for students, and the highly-contextual model of learning in Kairos is intimately tied to them. They provide students and mentors with the opportunity to gather for a week of learning, encouragement, and theological reflection. With segments of dynamic learning, instructor-to-student interaction, and peer-to-peer dialogue, gatherings are integral to building community and connections.
Up until March 2020, our Kairos gatherings had been hosted either in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or in Edmonton, Alberta. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on large group events and travel, the April and August gatherings were facilitated in a virtual format using Zoom. Now, this week, we will host our third virtual gathering. While not as originally intended, the virtual gatherings are exceeding expectations and creating some unique opportunities.
More people can attend.
The gathering in August had about 300 participants from ten countries and many states and provinces throughout the US and Canada—nearly twice as many participants than many past on-campus gatherings. By hosting the gatherings via Zoom, students and mentors who are normally not able to travel to a campus due to family, ministry, or vocational reasons can now more easily participate. The change is also providing many faculty mentors with the opportunity to interact with groups of students by leading case study groups and breakout sessions. And some students are getting to experience gatherings for the first time. In the words of one student, “I have never been able to participate in a gathering until now. I am so grateful to have this opportunity. This week was transformational.”
Workshops can be more relevant.
With everyone on Zoom, the list of possible presenters has expanded exponentially. In August, Cam Roxburgh, VP of Missional Initiatives for the North American Baptist Conference, led a workshop on postures and practices for being a good neighbor, and Wayne Stapleton, VP of Racial Righteousness for the North American Baptist Conference, led one on racial reconciliation. Students appreciated the opportunity to learn from Cam, Wayne, and the other presenters who were able to join from a distance.
They create new opportunities for partnership.
Virtual Kairos gatherings are helping Kairos more closely work with a wider array of ministry partners. For example, at the last gathering, Global Trust Partners (gtp.org) partnered with Kairos to offer a plenary session and several workshops focused on whole-life stewardship. And this week, VantagePoint3 (vantagepoint3.org) is leading a plenary focused on discipleship, development, and lifelong perspective.
We are excited about what God is teaching us through the virtual gatherings and are thankful for the opportunity to continue meeting, learning, and growing together! We are excited to see what God has in store this week as we explore human development in light of God’s kingdom.